Canadian border guards to check iPods for infringment

David says
The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws which could make the information on Canadian iPods, laptop computers or other personal electronic devices illegal and greatly increase the difficulty of travelling with such devices. The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

Canadians, time to write your MP! This was on the front page of the daily tabloid in Vancouver, so hopefully Jim Prentice will be forced to actually consult the public before he sells us all up the river.



  1. I saw this a couple of days ago in the Winnipeg Free Press. I don’t really understand how they think this could work. People don’t tend to label their music as legal or illegal.

  2. Maybe you’d be required to carry the original hardcopies at all times, BCJ.

    This is absolutely ridiculous- how can it even be CONSIDERED as reasonable? In what brain does this cross neurons that label it as a Good Idea?

  3. If this goes through, I guess the long term consequence is that we’ll stop traveling across borders. Not because of terrorist threats, but because of copyright threats.

    I’m too lazy to look it up, but from the top of my head, I think travel to the US has gone down by almost 20% since 2001. This is NOT because of possible terrorism, but because visitors are treated as criminals (or at least highly suspicious) when coming to the USA.

    Really, Canada, you’ve always seemed like the nice neighbor. You wanna go down that road as well?

    Also, with mp3-players having gigs and gigs of music on the nowadays, how long are we expected to wait on the border while every tune is checked for copyright infringements? My mobile phone has 4 GB of mp3s on it right now. And the file explorer is slooooow. I’ll bring a sleeping bag.

  4. It’s only going to make it easier for me to sneak the crack shipment through while they’re busy.

  5. Rockbox allows you to dual boot your Ipod. What’s ‘visible’ when the Ipod software is running isn’t ‘visible’ when the Rockbox software is running….

  6. To be honest, I don’t think it will get very far.

    It’s incredibly important to the Canadian economy that traffic flow smoothly across the border. It does not help that economy to be pulling over cars, trucks, and tour buses to spend hours checking their electronic devices for very little gain. To use a cliche phrase….if this goes through, the terrorists win. Really.

    If this goes any further, I would accuse the Harper government of monumental ignorance about the way international business is conducted, and of erecting barriers to that business.

  7. Seems weird that they would monitor this when any data could just as easily be transferred over the internet or by doing a dial-in connection over modem to a server to transfer the data.

    They’re making it hard on the little guy that doesn’t have the resources to store his data on a server somewhere. And they’re wasting our time. I already have to show up 3 hours early for international flights.

  8. at what point will corporations determine that international travel with laptops concerning sensitive information is too dangerous because of the many unauthorized eyes that will ‘forced’ to scan it? when that border guard pops his thumb drive on your laptop to make backup copies for ‘review’ you better watch out.

    your customer database just got sold to the highest bidder….

    thank you governments of the ‘modern’ world for making it that much easier for bulk identity theft, corporate espionage, etc.

  9. Why not force us to provide receipts for all the physical property we bring in too? I might be wearing illegally acquired shoes or a stolen watch.

  10. While they’re checking my (potentially) illegal movies and songs, will they also have designer label experts on hand to verify if the bag I’m carrying them in is a ripoff or legit? What about the clothes I’m wearing, and the shoes on my feet? I could have stolen them, you know, in one of my many retail heists. What if my haircut is actually a cheaper version of the $300 one I could have gotten uptown?

    Oh, the agony of small, unimaginative minds.

  11. By what mechanism will these “copyright infringement police” determined which material has been legally purchased, and which has been illegally copied?

    I’ve moved most of my (purchased) CD collection to my laptop, and thence onto my iPod. How will I be able to, during an ex-partes search, prove my ownership of that material? Will I need to show receipts of purchase going back over two decades? Maybe, if I produce all the original jewel cases with booklet inserts, I won’t have my expensive electronic equipment confiscated or destroyed?

    We Americans have a lot of screwy laws that impact our personal liberties, but the Canadians have us beat six-ways-from-Sunday with this one!

  12. Forget my mp3s made from legally purchased CDs, what about my legally purchased mp3s? How could I ever possibly prove that they’re legit? Audiolunchbox doesn’t keep a list of what you’ve downloaded. There’s absolutely no way to demonstrate the legality or illegality of an mp3.

  13. This is a story about Canada, but this particular blight originated in the USA, and is becoming our chief ideological export these days. It used to be Democracy, now it’s (oh I don’t know, lets call it) Copytarianism.

    It’s my belief that security searches during travel will be used against everything from child support to casual music sharing to petty vandalism by the time this has run its course. Once you have an entire nation you can search with “probable cause*” you have an entire nation of criminals. Once you have that, you are free to do as you please. Invest in the prison industry, become a lawyer. It’s going to get lucrative.

    You know what’s really scary though? The same properties which make digital music so easy to share makes digital evidence incredibly easy to plant. (What kind of porn did you say they found on your iPod?)

    Travel with an analog tape deck, it’s retro and safe…

    (*a notion rendered near worthless in modern America.)

  14. I was upset when customs searched my wallet, read my personal journal and my company documents,, and asked me specific questions about my child (his photo was in the wallet) that had NOTHING to do with the security of the country, but what could I do that wouldn’t get me arrested or detained from my family?

    They will do what they want. We will let them. Because in the end THEY have the power and we do not. Any travelor wants only one thing: to get to thier destination. At that destination is likely family or friends that they are desperate to unite with. Governments use this against us to strip us of our liberties and we are given no choice but to allow them or be punished by preventing us from arriving at our destination.

    At some point our only recourse will be to avoid traveling all together. At which point they will start instituting controls between state and provence borders instead.

  15. relax. All we are going to do is better hide and encrypt and just plain not expose our personal details. I look forward to a politer society. You will never know who you are talking to and will henceforth be more careful. As for border flunkies and other minor functionaries; let them have their fifteen seconds. All too soon they will be open jokes. Pity about that noble experiment democracy stuff, but there you have it.

  16. This is just getting ridiculous :(

    Seriously how many times do we have to go through this! Sometimes I think government officials seem to forget that they actually get elected to serve the public, not the interests of multinational corporations.

    It’s not are fault that companies, can’t adapt to changing technologies and pricing models.

    They might as well just throw us all in jail, because all they do is treat us all like criminals.

  17. I’m an EU citizen, will this hurt me if I travel to Canada? Oh, my, this is joint effort of G8 and Brussels is involved in this mess… There’s no civilized place to hide.

  18. “On top of these enforcement efforts, ACTA also proposes imposing new sanctions on Internet service providers. It would force them to hand over personal information pertaining to “claimed infringement” or “alleged infringers” – users who may be transmitting or sharing copyrighted content over the Internet.”


    How they think we’re going to roll over and accept this is beyond me.

  19. LMAO…. so how many days do I have to plan if I want to cross that border with the 80 Gig iPod that is in my car ? eh

    Another inapplicable rule brought to us by moronic politicians…. and btw, it’s not only the Canadian politicians that are retards…. it goes for all politicians all over the world.

  20. Just wait for the ‘international movement of media’ tax to join all the others on your next airline ticket…

  21. Add very short MP3s with titles like “Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams.mp3” and “Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On.mp3”. If they’re small enough, I imagine you could fit truly enormous numbers of them onto an iPod. Mark them as not to be included when shuffle is turned on, leaving your regular music easily listenable.

    As there is, however, no easy way (of which I’m aware) to filter by Shuffle/Don’t Shuffle or file size once it’s loaded onto the player, the Customs Service implodes from the work involved examining every single “track”.

    Problem with border checks very shortly solved.

  22. Good one Pauldrye, but what about filling the player with simply numbered tracks?

  23. This seems silly, but as one who very recently spent a LOT of time getting through Customs and Immigration at the Detroit/Windsor border crossing, you do not want to be the one they single out for scrutiny. I don’t know why it was me. No clear reason for crossing? (lunch) Couldn’t remember the last time I was there? (years) Why do I have tools in my car? (traveling) Looked anxious? (needed a bathroom).
    Whatever reason, they can make you very uncomfortable for pretty much as long as they want.
    My own music players are full of tracks that I ripped from CDs that I own, but I don’t even care if they consider that legit. The next time I cross the border it will be with as little as possible with me and an ironclad and verifiable story prepared.

  24. @KeithIrwin: Yeah, I thought the same thing. I buy most of my music through eMusic, but if the label leaves the site then so does the track through your account history. Between my legally purchased MP3s, legally downloaded podcasted tracks and legally ripped CDs/vinyl, I have about 60gb of music. How in God’s name could I prove whether they were purchased or pirated while standing at a customs desk?

    Part of me wants them to try this, though. The public backlash would be a sight to behold, especially when it turns into a battle between the airlines and the music industry.

  25. Sounds like a great business opportunity; kiosks on either side of the border where you can dump all the data from your mp3 player/hard drive, then retrieve it on the other side after your empty device has passed custom’s inspections. Replace kiosk with a bus/mobile home with a fast wireless link (or even line-of-sight wifi) and you could set it up almost anywhere.

  26. Is this real? Are the governments really in secret negotiations? If so, it could only be used for selective enforcement, the worst kind of legal legerdemain there is. I can’t even imagine that being possible though. How the hell are border guards/police even going to selectively enforce this?

    Jesus though, don’t ever underestimate a corporation’s attempts to legislate their revenue stream. If they can’t figure out a way to monetize the market, ENFORCE their particular marketing effort…bah, I say.

  27. â–º SOLUTION?

    For laptops, a hacked login screen for when you wake your computer from sleep or start up. It will appear exactly like a regular login screen; but there will be one major difference… depending on which password you put in, you will either be directed to a full screen Virtual Machine with no access* to your “real” computer… or you’ll be directed to your normal real login screen if you put in your “real” password.

    * You need to hack the VM to not see other “real” hard drives, etc. VM dummy apps, Terminal and Open Firmware hacks are your friend. UNIX FTW.


    1) I’m crossing the border from Canada with tons of stashed pot, explosive shoes, a liquid bomb enema and a pirated copy of the movie ‘Terror Firmer’ in my laptop.
    2) The Gestapo asks for my password to log into to my MacBook Pro because I look suspicious wearing my “Kill Bush” tee shirt.
    3) I respond, “You are a pawn ass shit head”
    4) They grab their tasers and say, “What did you just call me?!!”
    5) I retort, “Don’t tase me, bro… the password is ‘you are a pawn ass shit head'”
    6) Gestapo types in the insulting password and sees a normal looking desktop and only observes what I’ve loaded up in the VM. Basic OS X install, some dummy files to make it look like I use the thing for midget porn, etc.
    7) Gestapo closes my computer and I give a Nazi salute and goose step away.
    8) Later I type in my normal password, divert the VM, watch ‘Terror Firmer’, get all riled up and cause mayhem.
    9) Profit.

    Daisy Chain For Satan method:

    Have two internal drives in your laptop daisy chained together. Before your Gestapo encounter, pop open your mac and unplug your “real” hard drive entirely and put the cable in your pocket or wherever. The Mac will only boot to the dummy OS X installation and there is absolutely no software access to the other drive in there.


    Another method is to have an extra hard drive partition with another install of OS X on it and boot to it before you encounter the Gestapo. Once again this version has hacks in place like the first method to protect other partitions from view, etc.

  28. The law as a whole sounds like bullshit, but the siezure & destruction rider is no big deal, you can get a 4GB usb drive for 30 bucks even at big box retailers now – no need to worry about your nano getting destroyed by some power-crazed high school dropout at the border.

    What I’d like to know is how they plan to distinguish the technically legal dl’ed mp3s of today from the heinous copyright infringement dl’s of tomorrow… or if they even give crap and plan to make the whole thing retroactive. If it does go through retroactively, what I’d like to know is if I will get a retroactive tax rebate representing all the money I’ve spent on the levy over the years…

    I know, I’m dreaming in technicolour. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU VOTE TORY, PEOPLE.

  29. Thanks to all of you for this very valuable information.
    I will leave my shuffle at home on my trips.

  30. I don’t know about you other people but why don’t we deal with real issues like Gas, War, Taxes and other problems in the world and leave the businesses alone. The car dealership are doing their best to get us in electric and gas cars to help us. I don’t work at Kieffe & Sons, but I know people who have bought cars there and are happy. And continue to return and buy more cars from them. They have wonderful service and have a staff who are very friendly and helpful. I say GREAT JOB to Kieffe and Sons for their great business keep up the good work.

  31. You signed up just to post a troll post in the wrong thread? How many shots does that call for?

  32. Yes, I didn’t want to spoil cocktail hour by busting up the floor show. I assume that the poster works for the company in question.

  33. I spotted that on a reload and just had nothing to say. Thought I’d leave it to you…

  34. Whoever the “ehll” Kieffe & Sons are, I’m running, not walking, to them to buy my electric and gas car help.

    I’m also all about real issues like gas, war, and taxes (why did he capitalize them?).

    Is this a car dealership troll, or a RIAA troll? Oh well, thanks for the swell advice!

  35. What it basically does, is makes even owning an mp3 player or computer a reasonable cause to assume you must be committing piracy. But since there’s no way to prove you paid for it, and no way for THEM to prove you stole it, it’s a total waste of time. Might as well pull over every car on the road based on the assumption that, at some point, they must have exceeded the speed limit.

  36. @RossInDetroit

    The next time I cross the border it will be with as little as possible with me and an ironclad and verifiable story prepared.

    Reason for detainment: Overly prepared story; clearly expected to be questioned.
    Recomendation: Federal Pound me in the ass prison.

    American Style.


  37. How can a border guard tell if a given ipod song is legitimate or not? Are they going to MD5 each file and compare it against a list of “known” pirated files, or check if it differs from a list of “known” allowed files?

    I doubt they have the resources to do this, so it’ll boil down to:

    “I don’t like the look of your face, so I’m going to accuse you of having pirate material on your iPod, it’s probably a safe bet”

  38. So this must be the real reason harper wants to give our Customs Agents guns… to be more like the Americans, funny how the sharp end of Gov is very well armed indeed…

  39. If customs officers are going to spend their time as RIAA watchdogs, then the RIAA should pay their salaries.

  40. #50 —
    Well put.

    What was it Mussolini said about corporations running governments?

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